Moving to round out its corporate advisory capacity, Bankers Trust New York Corp. has signed veteran players to handle equity-related products and relationship management.

The New York bank company late last week named Mihir Bhattacharya a managing director to head origination of convertible and equity-linked bonds. Mr. Bhattacharya joined the company after a little more than a year at Union Bank of Switzerland and eight years at Merrill Lynch & Co.

The bank also announced the appointment of Rich Thaler, a 16-year Lehman Brothers veteran, as managing director responsible for a number of corporate and deal-sponsor clients.

Bringing Mr. Bhattacharya aboard will "enhance our underwriting and capital markets presence in the United States and complement what has been a very active business in Asia," said Ted Virtue, managing director and head of Bankers Trust's corporate finance group.

"We've been active in the last six months in underwriting convertible bonds in Asia," Mr. Virtue said, "and we are making a more active push in the United States to be a major player in the convertible business."

"This complements what Bankers Trust is doing on the equity side," said Raphael Soifer, a bank analyst at Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co. "Because Bankers Trust specializes in clients below investment grade, I think equity-linked bonds are probably that much more important."

The Bankers Trust executive said that the convertible business is an important bridge to the fixed-income and equity businesses.

Although it is an industry leader in leveraged bank loan syndications and in the top 10 as a leader of high-yield bond issues, Bankers Trust has yet to land its first lead-managed equity position.

"Equity is a product they ultimately have to be able to offer," Mr. Soifer said, "because they need a full range of product offerings to give the firm credibility as an adviser."

"Mr. Thaler brings a real breadth of client relationships that we should hopefully be able to transfer and leverage at Bankers Trust," Mr. Virtue said.

Mr. Thaler's client base included industrial and multinational clients in such businesses as auto parts and retailing.

"Bankers Trust is trying to land people who are playing straight to their weaknesses," said a headhunter at a New York firm.

Three years ago, a relationship manager like Mr. Thaler wouldn't have been offered the job and wouldn't have accepted it if offered, the executive recruiter said.

The headhunter called Mr. Thaler a "proven relationship manager" who is joining an influx of such executives at the bank company.

Signs that the company is looking to increase its relationship orientation include its purchase of advisory boutique Wolfensohn & Co. this year, he said. In the process, the bank brought former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker onto its board of directors.

"Two years ago, the bank had rejected this vaccination," the headhunter said. "It'll take a while to see if it'll take this time, but the signs are decidedly more positive."

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